The First is Amy Tan's "The Hundred Secret Senses," Published by Random House Ballantine Publishing Group 1995. This is by far her best book. All of her books revolve around family and Chinese families go way back. "The Hundred Secret Senses" key characters are Olivia (Chinese- American) and Kwan (Chinese but Olivia half sister). It has many of the elements which makes a book interesting to me - family tree, some researching of family trees, a little reincarnation and a lot of spirits from the dead. The book is well written and the characters are developed well. Kwan stands out for the way she speaks pigeon English, her loyalty, and her ability to see and talk to Yin people (the dead). Disappointing was the ending and what happened to Kwan. Amy Tan also likes to employ the technique of one chapter being in the present and the next chapter being in the past, which I don't usually care for. I have read "The Joy Luck Club", "The Kitchen God's Wife" and "The Bonesetters Daughter" and by far this is book is the best one of her novels.
The Second book is "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, published First Vintage Crime/Black Lizard June 2009. Since this book was originally written in Swedish let me give a large amount of credit to Reg Keeland, the translator, for making this book so interesting. Okay for many of the same reasons given in "The Hundred Secret Senses" plus the addition of 40 years murders, a missing person and various forms of sex, I found the story interesting. I found I was hooked on this book in the Prologue and it kept my interest for the next 644 pages. As I said the book has family tree, family tree research, crime research, a unique character in Lisbeth Salander, researcher, and family secrets. Many of you may have seen the movie, I have not, but I am curious as to how well it follows the book. Many books have more in them then what is contained in the movies that are made from them, "Dr Zhivago" and "No Country For Old Men" come immediately to mind. The general plot is Harriet Vanger goes missing and 40 years later the Vanger family hires Mikael Bloomkvist to find out what happened to her. He employs Lisbeth Salander to help investigate and research. Along the way he has sex with her and a couple of other females. He is shot at, beat up etc until he finally wraps up the murders and the missing person. It is set in Sweden, a country I know little about other than trips to Ikea, but the book did mention Ikea, Glogg and Lingonberries so I was able to relate at various parts in the book.